Let me tell you about a remarkable thing that happened to me last week. I was down at the local shop, doing my usual weekly shop – you know, bread, milk, the works. When I reached for my wallet at the till, I realised it was sitting comfortably at home. As I was mentally planning the embarrassing trek back, a stranger behind me stepped in and covered my bill, no questions asked. Now that, right there, was kindness wrapped in a surprise parcel. It made my day.
We’ve all had such moments, haven’t we? Unexpected acts of kindness sprinkling joy in our day like sugar in our morning tea. It feels brilliant to be on the receiving end. But have you ever paused to consider how often we are the ones extending that hand of kindness? How frequently do we pay for someone else’s groceries or hold the door open a moment longer? It’s odd, isn’t it? We’re all too ready to catch kindness, but a bit slow in tossing it around.
Now, let’s crack on to what the Bible teaches us about kindness. Kindness, according to the Good Book, isn’t just about sporting a friendly smile or letting someone jump the queue when they’re in a hurry. It’s an action, not just an attitude. It’s love wearing its wellies, ready to wade through muck if needed. It’s love active and alive, not just sat on the sidelines.
Now, if kindness is love in action, why do we sometimes find it challenging to show? Perhaps it’s a bit like keeping the last biscuit for ourselves, isn’t it? We treat kindness as if it’s a limited resource, something to be rationed. We wait for the ‘right’ moment or the ‘deserving’ person.
But isn’t it curious that we’re often reluctant to part with something we’ve freely and generously received ourselves? Could it be that we’re missing the point of kindness altogether? It’s not meant to be hoarded, but shared. Not kept under lock and key, but given away freely. Much to ponder, isn’t there?
Picture this: It’s a time of kings and warriors, and the mighty King David is at the helm. Tucked away in the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel Chapters 8 and 9, we stumble upon an extraordinary act of kindness.
David, if you recall, had an old friend, Jonathan, and they’d promised to show kindness to each other’s descendants. Now, Jonathan had a son, Mephibosheth, who was disabled. He’d been dropped as a child and had lived his life in the shadows, fearful and hidden. He was, after all, the grandson of Saul, David’s old enemy. You’d expect David to bear a grudge, wouldn’t you? But here’s the twist.
David, upon learning about Mephibosheth, did something remarkable. He didn’t just spare his life, but restored all the land that belonged to his grandfather Saul. But it didn’t stop there. He also invited Mephibosheth to dine at his table, a place of honour. Can you imagine Mephibosheth’s surprise? It’d be like finding a golden ticket in a chocolate bar!
Now, that’s a striking example of kindness in action. It’s a world away from our sometimes wishy-washy idea of kindness as just a warm feeling or a passing thought. David didn’t just think kind thoughts about Mephibosheth from a safe distance. He reached out, he acted. He made a tangible, life-altering difference in Mephibosheth’s life.
And isn’t that the very heart of kindness? Kindness isn’t a spectator sport. It requires us to get off the bench and onto the pitch. Kindness means getting our hands dirty, getting involved. It’s about making a difference, however big or small. It’s active, not passive.
So, what does David’s act of kindness mean for us today? We may not be kings or warriors, but we can certainly be bearers of kindness. We can choose to act, to make a difference. We can be like David, not just in thought, but in action.
Just think about it. If we start to view kindness as a call to action rather than a mere feeling, how might that change our interactions? Our world? Aye, it’s food for thought, isn’t it?
You might be thinking, “Well, I’m not a king. How does David’s act of kindness relate to me?” Ah, but here’s where it gets interesting.
Let’s think of it this way. When David invited Mephibosheth to his table, he didn’t just offer him food. He offered him acceptance, safety, dignity. Now, isn’t that something we can all offer, regardless of our status or situation?
We may not have a royal table, but we all have our own ‘tables’ – our homes, our workplaces, our communities. And we all have our Mephibosheths – the overlooked, the forgotten, the marginalised. So, the question is, how do we invite them to our table?
And before you start fretting about cooking a five-course meal, let me stop you. Inviting someone to our table could be as simple as a welcoming smile, a listening ear, or a word of encouragement. It could be as easy as checking in on an elderly neighbour, giving up your seat on the bus, or just picking up a piece of litter.
The point is, kindness isn’t grand gestures or lofty acts. It’s in the small, everyday things. It’s in the ‘how’ of our day-to-day lives – how we speak, how we act, how we treat others.
Imagine if we all tried to integrate small acts of kindness into our daily routines? We’d create ripples of kindness, wouldn’t we? Just picture the effect that would have on our homes, our communities, our world.
So, are we ready to start inviting our Mephibosheths to our tables? Are we prepared to put kindness into action in our everyday lives? Now, there’s a challenge for you. And me. Let’s give it a go, shall we?
Speaking of kindness, there’s another chap from the Bible who was an absolute whizz at it. Ever heard of the Good Samaritan? It’s a classic story of kindness that Jesus himself told.
So, here’s how it goes. A man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, leaving him half-dead. A priest came by but crossed the road and passed on the other side. Likewise, a Levite saw the man but also chose to ignore him. Then came the Samaritan. Despite Samaritans being despised by Jews at the time, he didn’t hesitate. He bandaged the man’s wounds, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn and even paid for his care.
Now, isn’t that something? The Samaritan wasn’t a man of status or influence. He didn’t have loads of resources. But he had kindness, and he wasn’t afraid to show it. He didn’t just feel sorry for the man, he acted. He did what he could with what he had.
And isn’t that the crux of it all? Kindness isn’t about what we have; it’s about what we do. It’s not about our status, our resources, or our abilities. It’s about our actions, our willingness to step in, to help, to care.
The Good Samaritan showed us that everyone, irrespective of their status or resources, can show kindness. He showed us that kindness isn’t limited to a specific group or class. It’s universal, it’s doable, and it’s needed.
So, what’s stopping us from being a Good Samaritan in our world today? What’s holding us back from taking that step, from extending our hand, from making a difference? There’s a world out there that’s hungry for kindness. Are we ready to feed it? Now, that’s a question to mull over, isn’t it?
So, here’s the challenge, and it’s a mighty exciting one. How can we put kindness into action? How can we turn our empathy into action, our compassion into deeds?
You see, it’s not about grand gestures or headline-worthy acts. It’s about those small, day-to-day actions that speak volumes. It’s about taking the extra moment to hold the lift for someone, paying a compliment that brightens a person’s day, or offering help without waiting to be asked.
Why not start tomorrow? Let’s put on our ‘kindness glasses’ and look for opportunities. Perhaps it’s taking out the bins for your elderly neighbour, letting someone go ahead of you in the supermarket queue, or even just making someone a cup of tea. Trust me, it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference.
But let’s remember why we’re doing this. This isn’t about patting ourselves on the back or ticking boxes on a ‘good deed’ checklist. It’s about reflecting the heart of God. The God who is abounding in love and kindness. The God who calls us to ‘be kind and compassionate to one another’ (Ephesians 4:32).
So, let’s embrace kindness, not just as a good quality to have, but as a way of life. As a reflection of our faith and our God. Are you ready to put kindness into action? Are you ready to be a Good Samaritan, a David, in your world today? I know I am. Let’s get cracking, shall we?